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Lhasa undergoes great changes
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15:26, December 10, 2008

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Editor's Note: Great changes have taken place in the ancient plateau city of Lhasa in the past more than half a century since the peaceful liberation of the city, especially the more than 20 years of the reform and opening up. The development of Lhasa cannot be separated from the unselfish dedications of the revolutionary predecessors, the joint efforts of all the nationalities, the cordial concerns of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council as well as the great support from the inland provinces and municipalities.

After breakfast, broom in hand, Samdrub started working as the day before: sweeping graves at burial ground.

Samdrub, 36, has worked as a keeper in the Lhasa cemetery of martyrs for 15 years. There have buried 833 martyrs who laid down their lives bravely for the peaceful liberation of Tibet, road construction, putting down rebellions and the Tibetan socialist construction.

Talking about Lhasa, pious Samdrub feels proud. Lhasa, situated on the alluvial plain at 3,650 meters above sea level, is one of the highest cities in the world. Lhasa has been the center of Tibetan politics, economy, culture and religions for a long time. As early as in the seventh century, Srong btsan Sgam po (Songtsan Gambol, King of Tubo) moved the capital to today's Lhasa after he unified Tibet. The long history of over 1,300 years has left Lhasa many cultural relics with a strong religious atmosphere: the temples and monasteries including Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Drepung Monastery, Sera Monastery and Ganden Monastery are famous both at home and abroad.

Samdrub, his grandfather and father are the witnesses of the new-age Lhasa. Tibet was peacefully liberated in 1951. At the beginning of the liberation, Lhasa was a city with only more than 20,000 residents and a one-kilometer twisted ��Bharkor Street" surrounded by a group of blocks covering an area less than three square kilometers. At that time there was no modern infrastructure like urban streets, lighting, water supply and drainage system, telecommunications and energy resources. Under the care of the central government, Lhasa's construction has taken a new shape.

Nowadays there are libraries, museums and shopping streets. Almost everything fashionable in the inland areas can be bought here. In addition, there are various kinds of western food, fresh lobsters and seasonal vegetables. There are also broadband access to the Internet, bowling alleys and thermal pools, and the lights are all full on at night. Foreign tourists visit the city all the year round. Roads radiate in all directions. At present, the city proper of Lhasa is up to 54 square kilometers, 18 times the size 50 years ago; the total length of the city's roads has been increased to 241 kilometers from one kilometer when the city was liberated; there is a private car for each 23 persons on average, more than five times the average level of the country; the number of permanent residents is 270,000; there are more than 220 hotels and hostels and 8,805 guest rooms with a reception capacity of six million travelers.

According to Lhasa municipal Party secretary, Lhasa's gross domestic product (GDP) reached RMB7.524 billion yuan in 2004. Nearly 100 industrial enterprises with characteristics engage in plateau biological development, processing farming and husbandry products and the production of national handicrafts. There appear Chinese famous brand name products such as Lhasa Beer and Tibetan medicine. The city has been transformed from a consumer to a producer in its economy. At the same time the entrance rate for school-age children reaches to 98.79 percent and the illiteracy rate of the young population declined to less than three percent. There are 260 temples, lamaseries and various religious activity places in Lhasa, 62 more than before the peaceful liberation. 17 inland provinces and municipalities have supported Tibetan construction for nearly 10 years. The support funds from the central government alone exceeded 60 billion yuan and more than 200 key projects in traffic, water conservancy, telecommunications and energy sources have been completed.

By People's Daily Online

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